Blog Archives

Most teddy bears are covered in food poisoning bacteria, tests reveal

By Plymouth Herald, http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/

bacteria bearEighty per cent of teddy bears are contaimianted with bacteria linked to food poisioning and a quarter harbour bugs commonly found in faeces.

That is according to new resaerch carried out by Dettol – which also found that 90 per cent of children regularly drop their teddies on the floor and 75 per cebt of bears aren’t washed after a child has been ill.

New laboratory research also revealed cuddly toys have the highest levels of bacteria in the family laundry basket.

Microbiologists swab-tested a variety of children’s teddies and found that over 80% were contaminated with staphylococcus spp (a pathogen associated with food poisoning) and almost a quarter contained coliforms, indicating a possible presence of harmful organisms. Read more

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Benefits for humanity: From NASA to Napa

By Laura Niles, http://phys.org/

Click here for the video

From the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station to the microclimates of the Napa Valley, station research impacts many different industries on Earth. The latest video in the Benefits for Humanity series illustrates how solutions for growing crops in space translates to solutions for mold prevention in wine cellars and other confined spaces on Earth.

Mold tends to grow in wine barrel storage rooms due to stagnant air. This not only can taint the wine, but also it can create an unhealthy working environment for winemakers. Luckily, a solution created for optimizing crop growth on the space station has helped reduce the amount of airborne mold spores in wine cellars.

NASA is studying crop growth aboard the to develop the capability for astronauts to grow their own food as part of the agency’s journey to Mars. Scientists working on this investigation noticed that a buildup of a naturally-occurring plant hormone called ethylene was destroying plants within the confined plant growth chambers. Through collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, researchers developed and successfully tested an ethylene removal system in space, called Advanced Astroculture (ADVASC). It helped to keep the plants alive by removing viruses, bacteria and mold from the plant growth chamber.

Realizing the potential for use in confined spaces on the ground, scientists adapted the ADVASC system for use in air purification. Initially used to prolong the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables in the grocery store, winemakers soon took note of the technology and employed it in their storage cellars. According to one winemaker, the ADVASC-derived air purification system enhances storage conditions, resulting in even better wine.

“It’s amazing when you think about all the innovations that are going on up in space, how they can come into a place as unexpected as a winery, which translates to benefits on your dinner table,” said Andrew Schweiger, winemaker at Schweiger Vineyards in St. Helena, California. Read more

River bacteria that killed Mechanicsville man identified

By Laura Kebede, Richmond Times-Dispatch

VibrioBacteriaThe river bacteria that contributed to the death of a Mechanicsville man last week has been identified as Vibrio vulnificus, a health official said.

Charlie Horner, 75, died after a cut from a catfish barb became infected with the bacteria Saturday at the Rappahannock River in Essex County. His leg was amputated Monday to stall the spread of the infection, but he died two days later.

Horner’s was the first death of 2015 reported in Virginia attributed to Vibrio vulnificus. There have been 17 cases so far this year, five of which were from wound infections, according to preliminary state data.

Vibrio vulnificus naturally occurs in brackish and salt water, especially during the warmer months, including in parts of the James River as it mixes with salt water from the Chesapeake Bay. Its prevalence peaks in July because the bacteria replicates faster in warmer water. It can enter the bloodstream through open wounds or cuts, or when a person eats contaminated shellfish. Read more

How Germs Might Shape the Future of Architecture

By Vicky Gan, http://www.citylab.com/

We know that buildings can make us sick. Take, for example, cases of lead poisoning, mold exposure, or the aptly named Sick Building Syndrome. But cabiobuildingn they also make us healthier? Scientists are trying to answer that very question, starting with detailed studies of the microbes that populate our homes and offices. The end goal? Using this information to design structures constructed with bodies in mind.

This is a big shift in how we’ve previously conceptualized microbial life. We’ve long treated bacteria as the enemy. But it turns out that few of the germs we’re constantly trying to kill with hand sanitizer actually cause disease—and the more bacteria we have on the whole, the better. In fact, our habit of ultrasterilization appears to be hurting us. A number of recent studies have lent credence to the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” which attributes the uptick in autoimmune and allergic diseases, including eczema and asthma, to a lack of early childhood exposure to germs. Read more

Meningitis outbreak in Los Angeles, three dead so far

By JC Sevcik, http://www.upi.com

MeningitisThree have died due to meningitis in Los Angeles, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said Thursday.

The department announced their have been eight cases of invasive meningococcal disease in the county so far this year, the L.A. Times reports.

Invasive meningococcal disease causes meningitis, an inflammation of the the meninges, the protective membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be spread through exposure to sneezing and coughing and contact with saliva and mucous. Kissing, sharing beverages or cigarettes, and living in group settings can transmit the bacteria responsible for infection.

Symptoms usually onset within five days of exposure to the bacteria, and may include a high fever, stiff neck, aches, and an aversion to bright lights.

Read More

Bacteria May Allow Animals to Send Quick, Voluminous Messages

By Layne Cameron & Kevin Theis, http://msutoday.msu.edu

hyenaIn the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Michigan State University researcher shows that the detailed scent posts of hyenas are, in part, products of symbiotic bacteria, microbes that have a mutually beneficial relationship with their hosts.

“When hyenas leave paste deposits on grass, the sour-smelling signals relay reams of information for other animals to read,” said Kevin Theis, the paper’s lead author and MSU postdoctoral researcher. “Hyenas can leave a quick, detailed message and go. It’s like a bulletin board of who’s around and how they’re doing.”

Interestingly, it’s the bacteria in pastes – more diverse than scientists had imagined – that appear to be doing the yeoman’s job of sending these messages.

“Scent posts are bulletin boards, pastes are business cards, and bacteria are the ink, shaped into letters and words that provide information about the paster to the boards’ visitors,” Theis said. “Without the ink, there is potentially just a board of blank uninformative cards.” Read More

 

Bacteria, Mold Found In Vacuum Dust

Dust bunnies

Dust bunnies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Posted by http://www.huffingtonpost.com

 

Think the dust created by your vacuum only contains harmless hair and dust bunnies? A new study suggests more nefarious organisms could be lurking.

 

The study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, shows that mold and bacteria — with some bacteria even carrying antibiotic resistance genes, as well as the Clostridium botulinum toxin gene — are present in aerosolized vacuum dust. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland, the Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Quebec, and the Universite Laval.

 

“Human skin and hair have been shown to be strong sources of bacteria in floor dust and air indoors, which can be readily resuspended and inhaled,” the researchers wrote in the study. “Our results show that although vacuum operation is typically brief, vacuum emissions can release appreciable quantities of human-derived bacteria. Such emissions could potentially lead to inhalation of infectious or allergenic aerosols.”

 

While researchers did not actually show in the study that the bacteria and mold in the vacuum dust caused health problems, they noted it does illustrate the “potential capability of vacuum cleaners to disseminate appreciable quantities of molds and human-associated bacteria indoors and their role as a source of exposure to bioaerosols.” Read More

 

 

Attack of the Killer Bacteria: Superbugs, Prepare to Die!

By Charles Choi, LiveScience.com

Predatory bacteria that devour microbes could help kill potentially lethal drug-resistant germs when antibiotics fail, researchers say.

Antibiotics currently help fight bacterial infections both in people and livestock, saving countless lives. However, constant use of these drugs has now bred germs resistant to many antibiotics — superbugs that some experts warn could lead to apocalyptic scenarios. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that each year in the United States, nearly 2 million patients acquire infections in hospitals. Many of these infections are caused by these drug-resistant contagions.

Scientists are hunting for ways to overcome drug-resistant bacteria, such as viruses known as bacteriophages, which infect and kill only bacteria. Now investigators suggest predatory bacteria that eat other bacteria may serve as vital allies, too. Read More

 

Bacterial breakthrough could lead to better biological batteries

An interesting study uses bacteria to create better batteries.

By Jennifer Welsh, http://www.businessinsider.com

New research into electricity-conducting bacteria could lead to environmentally friendly “bio-batteries” that could create energy, be used as factories for biological products, or clean out heavy metals from contaminated soils.

These bacteria live off iron and heavy metals, similar to how we live off of oxygen. They use it to make energy the way we use oxygen and food to make the energy that runs our bodies. Read More